Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Hot Mess 21st Birthday Cake

My best friend, and roommate, just turned 21.

This is a big birthday for any young adult. Mostly due arbitrary age-restrictions about the consumption of our little friend alcohol.

Now, my roommate was a little bit in denial, and kept trying to tell me that her birthday was in June, or was it November? It's definitely like eight months away... I only questioned myself long enough to fail to order her present on time, but I finally reassured myself it was the 6th. So when she was leaving to visit with her mom on her birthday morning, I got one of these faces...

As soon as she walked out the door, I got my coffee and then got to work. I really enjoy birthdays, especially making things for people when they don't really expect it. However, she did sort of expect something because I baked the cake the night before so it would be cool the next morning; nothing is more frustrating than trying to put frosting on a hot cake.

Now, I didn't come up with this idea completely on my own, but this one is my design. It really is an incredibly fun cake to make.

Materials, in the weird morning light

What I actually used from the picture:
Baked and frosted cake (I used Devil's food with vanilla icing)
Assorted sprinkles (if you get funfetti icing it comes with sprinkles!)
Decorating goo for writing
Some slutty Barbie (which is basically any Barbie...)
Package re-lighting candles (19 candles)
Numbers 2 and 1 candles
Tiny bottle of Advil
Tiny bottles of alcohol (tequila)
Saran wrap

(I was going to put some of those tiny toothbrushes on there (part of the hangover kit), but they weren't very aesthetically pleasing and were a little further off topic than I wanted. I also thought about having a few red hots near the Advil, like they spilled, but decided against it.)

On another note, it was weird to be 20 years old out shopping for a Barbie, I not gonna lie. I felt like a little kid.
This Barbie was our lucky winner.

She was bound for better things than her peers. 
Okay, maybe not better... but different... much different.

So, have your cake baked and frosted evenly. I recommend using a larger cake pan (around 9x13). I assume you can bake a boxed cake and put pre-made frosting on it.

Boom. Like a boss.

Get a piece of plastic wrap that will cover about 1/2 of the cake and put it on the side you want the Barbie on. Sanitation is key, because no one wants to eat Barbie-flavored cake with pieces of plastic hair on it. I took the time to do a sloppy French braid with mine's hair; I was worried about the re-lighting candles sparking and setting the whole thing on fire. The candles did end up smoking a lot we had to open some windows, and only three of the re-lighting ones actually did anything, but whatevs.

All the decorating is up to you and is as simple as you want it to be. Here's what I did...

Arrange the Barbie on the cake in a fall-down-drunk manner. It's your art piece, so have fun with arranging the bottles around her. I had her snuggling with one of the bottles, with her leg propped up on another and her other arm around the bottle of Advil. Note, her glasses are askew as well. Lots of thought went into this, what can I say?

Then place the "2" and "1" candles in the opposite upper corner. Write your message on the cake with the goo of your choice, I went for a girly theme and chose pink.

Poke the candles into the cake, keep the re-lighting ones further away from the Barbie. I used a mix of re-lighting and regular candles, with a total candle count of 21.

Finally toss the sprinkles on around the cake. It doesn't have to look perfect, it's supposed to be kinda ugly, it is a hot mess after all. I also frosted one of her hands and her feet and threw on some sprinkles as well.

It says something to the effect of: "Happy birthday you hot mess! Woooo!"

Yes, I'm aware it does look like she's waiting for GI Joe. 
She's Barbie; she's not modest...

Sprinkles everywhere, on her feet and in her hair.

It is very difficult to write legibly for me at all, let alone with goo. 

One of my roommates partnered in crime and hid the cake in his room. The only piece of evidence I failed to destroy properly was the frosting container that she saw in the trash, but she had no idea that there was any Barbies or tequila involved. Overall, I think the cake was fairly successful.

It helps that she was already buzzin'. The birthday girl's drink of choice?
Champagne and strawberries, because she's classy.

*Ooh pretty...*

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Hit Me with Music

I was raised in a house that was never silent. First thing in the morning one of my parents would tune the house to mellow jazz, we'd tune in and out of different stations throughout the day, and at night our stereo would be put on a timer and I would fall asleep to Lights Out on 101.9 Kink FM.

I didn't realize this until my sophomore year in college when my roommates mentioned that I was always playing music. When I tried to stop, I actually became slightly anxious and the silence of the house was deafening. Needless to say, I am quite attached to audio.

So the music plays on in my life, because:
"One good thing about music, when it hits, you feel no pain." ~ Bob Marley

During one visit home I mentioned that my iPod didn't have enough space on it (first world problems, right?), and my parents were shocked.
"How much music do you need?"

More than 2,000 songs, guys, come on. I listen to nearly everything.

Incredulous, they proceded to grill me about my music preferences, and kept bringing up "back in the day" and these things called "eight-tracks". They started resorting to some pretty odd scenarios trying to get me to narrow it down to my absolute favorites.

"If you were abducted by aliens, forced to live on a planet where you could live comfortably but could only take seven albums with you, what would they be?"

Oddly specific... thanks.

This is like that time my sister and I asked our mom who she loved more.
And she said both of us.
And we asked, who would she save if she could only save one from falling off a cliff?
And she said both of us.
And we asked her, what if she only had one crumb to fend off starvation with?
And she said she'd split the crumb between both of us.

How diplomatic, Mom... if that even is your real name!

Anyway, when I say I listen to nearly every genre of music, I mean it.
I love country.
One of my most played LPs is Vivaldi's Four Seasons.
I have eight hours of Bob Marley and eleven hours of Jimmy Buffett on my computer.
I have 50 pieces by Macklemore* (and associates).
And The Killers, Mike Posner, Kid Cudi, Mumford & Sons, Dragonette, Eric Hutchinson, and Gorillaz are just a few to adorn the list of my most played tracks.

Unfortunately, because I love most forms of music, I do get a little offended when people  say they hate a genre. This is such a generalized statement, it's highly unlikely that it's 100% true. I've found it's most often applied to country music. To which I usually reply, "Have you listened to all the country music?" How can you say you hate something if you don't know all it has to offer. A huge diversity can be found just from a handful of artists like Johnny Cash, Dixie Chicks, Josh Abbott, Reba McEntire, Josh Turner, Patsy Cline, Alan Jackson, Emmylou Harris, Eli Young, and Carrie Underwood.

If you can listen to a few songs by each of those musicians, and you still hate country... well... I don't know if we can be friends.

No really, you know what? Please leave.

Just kidding.

You can stay.

But seriously. I don't even hate all the people who "hate" a genre of music. Sure, I don't understand them and think they might be a little narrow-minded, but I can get around that.

While I enjoy the melodic components of songs, I find myself being especially drawn to the lyrics. If you find yourself in the same boat, welcome, there are piña coladas in the galley. You should most definitely listen to "The Borderlands" by Caswell Carnahan. If you are able to find it somewhere in the Interweb, don't multitask, just close your eyes and appreciate the art. Honestly, the first time I listened to it I cried. It is nearly impossible to find the entire song online, but the lyrics are here.

College life isn't all rainbows and butterflies; winter term can get pretty real. My secret? Anti-depressants in the form of songs. Listening to happy music primes to me have a better day. That's fact.

Being female, heading this playlist is Joni Mitchell's "You Turn Me On I'm a Radio". The protagonist of this song is so strong and she knows. Knows what exactly? She just knows; she's got love and life confidently all figured out, and it gives me hope that I will too someday.

From my eclectic assortment, here are some other random groups I love. If you already listen to of all of them, let me know what date you're free so I can start planning our wedding. Ignore the weird videos or pictures that come up from the links to the songs, it is YouTube after all... people can make bad decisions on YouTube.

Bruce Cockburn
"Bone in My Ear"
It's pronounced "ko-burn". It really is a hauntingly beautiful song. 

Crash Test Dummies
"In the Days of the Caveman"
This guy's voice is unreal, almost makes me laugh it's so deep. 

Dirty Heads
"Lay Me Down"
This one got a lot of radio time, but I still love it and the group's vibe. 

Vampire Weekend
Love their bubbly style, it's carefree and very unique. 

Venus Hum
"Bella Luna"
Her voice is amazing, so pure, achingly sad. 

"Red Red Wine"
I don't usually like remakes, but this one is good. 

Pink Martini
"U Plavu Zoru"
The instruments tell the story, magically, partially because I don't understand Croatian. 

Moondog Matinee
"Sweet Heroine"
A roommate turned me onto this group; I'm surprised they're not more well known. 

"Not Too Fast"
From spring break in Hawaii, this song is upbeat and always gives me a smile. 

Sol (feat. Ray Dalton)
"Need Your Love"
A good friend told me to check this guy out; it's worth your time. 

For a while, my answer to my parents' extraterrestrial situation was that I would rather take no music than miss out on any of it. I maintained that I would be driven crazy if I couldn't listen to, or at least have the option to listen to, any of my number of favorite bands. It would be like losing one of my senses. I still feel this is a valid route, but things change.

While I thoroughly enjoy all of the preceding groups, if I really was abducted by aliens, and it was inexplicably in their M.O. to let me peruse the world's supply of music for the arbitrary number of seven albums, I have a different selection of records that I would listen to for the rest of my life.

After much deliberation (power points were made, charts created, and many tearful sleepless nights endured), I have narrowed my choices down to just seven albums. Just like, if you really pressed me, I would be able to pick which sense to sacrifice (sight).

(Here is the format of my presentation... 
mostly because I didn't want to do homework.

Album by Artist
What genre iTunes calls it -- year released)

And the winners are:

Maroon by Barenaked Ladies
Alternative & Punk-- 2000

Shadow Man by Johnny Clegg* & Savuka
World -- 1988

Joshua Tree by U2*
Rock -- 1987

Exodus by Bob Marley & The Wailers
 Reggae -- 1977

Mescalito by Ryan Bingham
Country -- 2007

Barometer Soup by Jimmy Buffett
"Pop" -- 1995

Rumours by Fleetwood Mac
Rock -- 1977

I feel like I'm always drawn back to these seven. I don't get tired of them. It's a quality array of different genres, and each album has a variety of happy and sad songs. Maximum diversity achieved!

If you're stuck in a music rut, check some of these groups out. Music Map is a cool website for finding new musicians from ones you already listen to as well.

(*I am fortunate enough to have seen these asterisked artists in concert. They are all fantastic performers in completely separate ways. I always find it amazing what beauty we humans are capable of.)